Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why Politicians Love A Long-Running Home Town Sports Story

You can bet there is no one happier than Scott Walker that the Packers are rolling in a playoff run because a) I am sure he is a true fan, and b) the streak inevitably focuses public attention on TV and good times at Lambeau Field, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago, and not on wonky politics and legislative nuts-and-bolts in Madison.

I've worked at the State Capitol, in campaigns and in two City Halls, and I can tell you that getting knocked out of the lead in a news cycle by happy news is a politician's Christmas Eve, New Year's Day and Spring break rolled into one.

And media love the continuing story, too. It's good for sales, ratings and everyone's morale.

If the Packers were to win the NFL championship game this Sunday, the entire GOP apparatus in and near the State Capitol will delight in two fresh weeks of diminished public interest, as media and constituents alike will shift their gaze to Super Bowl Sunday, February 6th, in Dallas.

Plus there's the pre-game hype, then the game and its aftermath - - win or lose - - hopefully a green-and-gold win.

People are rightly caught up with Packer fever, including me. Weeks of exciting games and victories when a single loss would bring down the curtain is a compelling, feel-good story, and one that knits the state together.

But the success of Packer players and the organization does allow Walker a freer hand to move a bit more quietly to consolidate power, goose legislation forward and propose and grease blockbuster changers in state law, regulation, litigation standards, environmental protections and fiscal policy that might be just a tad higher in the public consciousness if not for the state's intensifying love affair with its dynamite pro football team.

So if someone asks, "Hey - - how about that Pat Stevens?" (being appointed as the third key home builder insider given a policy-making post at the DNR?"), expect someone to come back with:

"Pat Stevens? Who he? How many catches does Greg Jennings get against the Bears secondary?"


Anonymous said...

Good point, and another reason to cheer the Pack on.

Boxer said...

Just goes to show ya: everything's fair game for the Walker administration--all of the state's resources, including the Packers. Loot, pollute and scoot!

Anonymous said...

the media, especially local tv news, also loves it because they don't have to strain their brains coming up with insipid ways to cover the story which are exactly the same ways they covered the story the last time a sports team had success.